Behind the Mask
Catch the cold and keep it to yourself. I’m talking about biosecurity. Those masks aren’t to protect us from the animals – it’s the other way around. We’re protecting the animals. Pigs are susceptible to human cold viruses which can make the boars infertile resulting in reduced or lost litters. For this reason it is very important to protect your breeding stock if you catch a cold and to minimize visitor’s contact with your animals. Even feeder stock will be set back by a cold causing it to not grow as fast.
Thus the masks and gloves. We picked up a cold about two weeks ago. For as long as we have a chance to transmit it we minimize contact with the animals, try to prevent our coughs and our touch from spreading the virus to the livestock. This is a bit difficult with the piglets being born, needing weaning, moving sows into the gestation and farrowing areas, etc. We’ve also got young ducks and chicks that need care right now. Thus the masks and gloves.
We haven’t had a cold for 18 months. Maybe it is the healthy diet and good living. I suspect part of it is we stay outdoors a lot getting fresh air and have little physical contact with other people. The source of most disease is close human contact: Shaking hands, breathing closed in poorly ventilated spaces and worst of all, hospitals. A place that we may have picked up this cold is the doctor’s office when I went for my physical since I only had one other contact point. This is a bit of irony. I go to the doctor to check my health (no issues) and that is where we have most often picked up disease. The last two times we wore gloves and masks – we didn’t catch anything. This time I didn’t use the protection, shook bare hands (and used the hand gel) and I got something which I passed on to the kids. Holly was the only one who didn’t get it – perhaps she has had it before and is thus immune.
I’ve heard it said you should get the cold so you develop immunity. The problem is there are over 200 varieties and one must get every single one to develop immunity. Immunity to one cold does not confer immunity to another variant. The average person gets one to two colds a year. Children typically get four to six colds a year. This means it would take about 75 years or so to become exposed to all the cold viruses. In other words, the “get out and get colds so you develop immunity” does not work numerically – the average person dies first and the cold kills many of them.
Over the year’s we tracked where we’ve picked up illnesses. Sources of colds have been hospitals and doctor’s offices, meetings, hand shakes, indoor family gatherings, the laundromat, shopping at the supermarket. Interestingly we’ve never tracked one back to a restaurant or the general store. Wearing cotton gloves when shopping, doing the laundry, etc seems to solve the problem. Wearing a face mask at the doctor’s office seems to prevent infections there (17 sample points with mask/gloves). We have also never gotten sick from the dentist. Very interesting since the dental hygenist and dentist both wear face masks and gloves. Hmm…
In addition to face masks and gloves when we get a cold we also have our farm setup to minimize the impact from outside disease sources – basic biosecurity. Our driveway is designed to drain away from the animal areas. The pastures are up above the road. When we do have visitors they stay on the driveway and similar areas which keep them out of the pastures and back from the animals. Look but don’t touch. Visitor’s cars park down at the gate. Our farm itself is isolated fairly far from any other farms with a large buffer zone and we’re at the top of the water shed. This all helps to protect us from GMO pollen drift, pesticides and herbicides used by others.
Nothing’s 100% protection but these little things help reduce the chances of our livestock getting sick. The fresh air, good diet and outdoor living is probably the key. Healthy animals mean we don’t have to use medications on them, they breed better and they grow better. Everyone’s happier.
Outdoors: 41°F/24°F 2″ Snow, Cloudy, Rain, Snowing again
Tiny Cottage: 65°F/59°F
Daily Spark: Remember, government does not produce…it must be supported by the producers. -The Phantom